Floral Notes and Bardo: Like a Donair, Like an Illusion

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

It’s this way everywhere:
You can’t hide from yourself, and if you try, you will only dig yourself deeper into the muck.

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Above is a picture of me eating a “heretical tofu ‘donair.’”  Food and photo by Adam Mitchell of Halifax.

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SMC is commonly referred to as a “pressure cooker,” meaning that everything seems to happen in an intensified way — up and down, pleasure and pain.  Mental and emotional displays are especially vivid, punchy, heart-opening.

It’s quite an opportunity for purification, because, not only is the experience quite potent, but there is lots of support that helps one move through it, process it, in a positive way.  Another term commonly used to describe SMC is “karmic accelerator” — meaning pretty much the same thing.  The stuff of ourselves has to be experienced.  The consequences of our past actions will come to some sort of fruition.  That happens here, rapidly and in a big way.

Stuff from my past has been coming up for me recently.  Stuff that comes up every so often.  I don’t know what to do with it.  Something triggers a series of events in my memory, and then they are just there.  I don’t want to hide anything about myself from anyone, but the stuff also seems irrelevant.  I beat myself up a bit, feel ashamed about the whole thing.

So, I’m wondering about authenticity, fundamental worthiness, self-absorption…  How and when to just “drop it.”  I feel myself turning an inquisitive eye towards the experience, rather than shutting it out.  It’s really not easy, but it doesn’t feel quite as stuck as it has previously.

I’m feeling extra motivated to practice.  I’m spending time with the Stupa.  I’m making supplications to the energies that I’m in the midst of that I may connect with intuitive guidance, and that confusion may dawn as wisdom.

It’s rich, messy, and beautiful — Like a donair.

– April 29, 2014

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Building the Plane as We Fly/One Love!

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Ital food!!! Awwww, yea! (In celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday). What an amazing surprise at lunch today. Few substances on the planet lively up myself like Ital food. Irie!

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In other news:

Most of the SMC leadership people (upper tier of the hierarchy) are in an intense retreat this week: Monarch Retreat. It’s secret sort of stuff. I don’t know what’s going on in there, but I feel confident that it is good stuff. I’m glad they are all in there. It’ll be good for everyone for those folks to be even more tapped-into their wisdom-ruler-mojo.

Meanwhile, I lead the weekly community meeting yesterday. It didn’t go as planned. It turned into a group check-in–everyone had a turn to share from the heart. It was great, except that I didn’t set it up right. From time to time we do something called Council Practice. That’s kinda what this meeting turned into, almost accidentally, except it was missing some key components–mainly the set-up.

In Council Practice, a sacred space is created and everyone participating agrees to treat the space that way. No one responds to what other people say, everything that is shared is confidential, and nothing leaves the space. You can’t follow-up with someone afterwards. A talking-stick of some sort is passed around the circle and everyone has a turn to share. The emphasis is on deep listening. We go around three times.

Yesterday, we all shared intimately, but without the sacred set-up, though I did begin with a contemplation on deep listening. Anyway, in the meeting and afterwards, because I didn’t create a good container (I believe) there were some emotional flare-ups. Some people got hurt. It was kind of a karmic oops on my part. Mostly though, people seemed to benefit. So, it may have been close to neutral.

Many of us feel now that there needs to be more gatherings like that. Something I feel inspired to work on as Head Dekyong is cultivating more warmth and togetherness in the community. Some folks are reporting feeling isolated, and not much community-togetherness these days. Maybe it’s part of the winter-blue season.

We all see each other a lot. At least everyday at meals, and throughout the day all over the place. Yet, we can feel so distant from one another.

This is the stuff. This is the real experience/experiment. How to cultivate a culture of kindness? Of empathy and friendliness? I’m right here in the thick of an experiment. I’m so glad for that! We’re all here. How can we set things up so that it works? This is training ground. This is the petri dish. We have to be able to get it right here if we (humanity) are to have any hope of doing it on a larger scale.

We have to figure out how to exist together, and sustain ourselves in various ways. We’ve got to pay the bills and we’ve got to enjoy life also. We need to achieve financial and emotional well-being. We need to balance work, community, and personal lives. How to do it?

The Shambhala Teachings say a lot about this. So, we have some guidance. Still, it is so experimental. There is no recipe to follow. It is often said here: “We are building the plane as we fly.”

How great is that?!

–February 6

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community. 

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: Nine Minutes Well Spent

 

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Squealing demon racing through rib-cage forest
care
and when I’m scared
care
when I’m scared of the dissolution of my constructed character-dude
care
care about more than my story
(Characters; care-actors)

I’m not able to be the way I was.
I’m growing suspicious of the effort to find the right way to be
Care less about it turning out right
care more so I’m not so uptight
Care about others
Amen.

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The Mahayana is sneaking up on me, maybe. Last night we danced–”open to others”

Nathaniel is an amazing dancer, teacher, and he has exquisite taste in music. So glad for his existence and friendship…

We have a lovely shrine room with a great sound system. Last night–blues dance class. I love it. Nathanial teaches along with Kaleigh (my boss). Kaleigh is teaching me a lot, including how to blues dance. When we accomplish something big and sparkly–marketing-wise–we crank up tunes and have a five minute dance party in our office.

Partner dancing–fun and awkward… Blissful to harmonize with someone in that way, in a stream of music. And good practice for relaxing into friendly engagement. We step on each other’s toes, tense up, and remember to smile, striving towards mutual delight.

After dancing for a while, Heather made a fort out of meditation cushions and Nathaniel and I pulled Molly around in circles on the smooth wood floor. Beautiful tunes from Nathaniel’s library–a few originals, Radiohead… So lovely.

It’s somewhat rare here for me to be in a room with speakers… to enjoy music acoustically (I listen in headphones in my room some nights). It was nourishing. Ahh… We all laid on the floor at the end and bathed in lush Sigur Ros.

Nathaniel: “Nine minutes well spent”

Amen.

I feel friendship relaxing my boundaries, freaking me out, inviting me to be more playful.

AND

Today for lunch we had burritos! Man… I love burritos.

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PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center. His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.